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The Latest News From The Texas Capitol

April 16, 2017

 

85th Legislature Update

 

The bill filing deadline for the 85th Session of the Texas Legislature has passed with over 6,000 bills filed. If you are interested in a certain bill that has been filed, you can go to www.capitol.state.tx.us and type in the bill number. This will allow you to track bill progress through the final days of the session.

 

TLR Litigation Bill

 

It has been a busy time for the IIAT Governmental Affairs team. IIAT has testified on a number of important bills including many of our key issues for the session. SB 10 and HB 1774, the TLR litigation reform bill, or "hail bill," has been voted out of both the Senate Business & Commerce and House Insurance committees. Action is pending on both floors and we will continue to work with the various stakeholders supporting the common sense changes proposed. Click here for more information.

 

IIAT's other key issues include SB 562 / HB 1559, our surplus lines freedom bill; SB 417 / HB 647, our notification of coverage change legislation; and SB 1283 / HB 3018, the TWIA reciprocity bill. All bills are moving through the committee process. Other bills of interest to the insurance industry this session include the "distracted driving" bill, SB 31 / HB 62, as well as a number of "balanced billing" bills in the health insurance field.

 

Surplus Lines Freedom

 

SB 562 and its companion bill, HB 1559, have both been heard in committee, have passed out to their respective bodies, and should be heard soon. In working with the industry stakeholders, TDI, and other trade groups, IIAT has had no opposition to date on this bill. The bill will create an "industrial insured exemption" which removes the requirement of a diligent effort search if the customer meets certain criteria. This will allow agents to provide all options to larger, sophisticated commercial clients if certain conditions are met. View the key points of this bill.

 

Change in Coverage Notification

 

SB 417 and HB 647 will correct a couple of issues in the Insurance Code that are problematic to consumers and agents alike. Currently, if an insurer changes policy forms, at renewal, they are required to send a "non-renewal notice." This is confusing to the consumer as often times they read this as a cancellation. This legislation will amend this requirement and allow a notice of renewal, if written in plain language and given to the insured and agent 30 days prior to renewal. Secondly, if a company makes a "meaningful change" as defined in legislation, the change must be clearly described in the renewal notice. If a company is deleting coverage, they must clearly state what is being deleted.

 

While this change in coverage was intended to be for personal lines policies, it also pertains to governmental entity coverages. To see what type of policies are affected, go to www.statutes.legis.state.tx.us and choose Insurance Code; Article/Chapter 551; Sec. 551.102(4). For more information on the bill, click here.

 

TWIA Reciprocity

 

At the end of the 2016 Louisiana legislative session, a change was made relating to access to their wind pool. By adding four words, Louisiana Citizens exempted all non-resident agents' access to their pool and FAIR plan. Furthermore, Texas agents began receiving notices that their policies would not be renewed unless through a resident agent of Louisiana.

SB 1283 and HB 3018 will establish that access to Texas Windstorm Insurance Association (TWIA) will be limited to states that allow access to their wind facility. IIAT has been in contact with IIALA and our hope is that they will amend their statute as soon as possible to become a reciprocity state as well. 

 

Over the next 50 days, our hope is that these bills will move to the floor for debate and hopefully passage, and then on to Governor Abbott for his signature. If you have an interest in these or any other bills, please emailthe IIAT Government Affairs team and we will be happy to research the matter and get back to you.

 

 

 

Info courtesy of IIAT's Governmental Affairs Blog

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